Asian imports of Iran oil plunge 18 pct in December

oil2.jpg Asian imports of Iranian oil fell 18 percent in December from a year earlier, as Iran’s biggest crude buyers refrained from increasing their purchases before sanctions were lifted as part of an agreement on Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme.

But Iran’s rehabilitation in the international commercial system is proceeding fast, with oil exports surging this month and next, according to data obtained by Reuters. Billions of dollars of deals have also been agreed with companies from Italy, France and other European countries since sanctions were lifted at mid-month. Imports by Iran’s four biggest buyers – China, India, Japan and South Korea – came to just below 1 million barrels per day (bpd) in December, down from 1.2 million bpd from a year ago, government and tanker-tracking data show.

The 2015 imports were slightly above 1 million bpd, down 8 percent from the year before. The arrival figures show that buying remained restrained even after an agreement was reached in July to curb Iran’s nuclear programme. The Islamic republic has consistently said it programme was for power generation and not about building an atomic bomb, as the United States and its allies have claimed.

Now, with sanctions lifted after Tehran took the required steps set out in the July agreement, Iran is ramping up exports as it seeks to regain market share, data from a source with knowledge of Iranian loading schedule shows. The sanctions were introduced to keep Iran’s exports at around 1 million bpd – down from an average 2.5 million bpd in 2011 – and have been credited with forcing Tehran to the negotiating table over its disputed nuclear activities.

President Hassan Rouhani is eager to boost the country’s battered economy after winning an election on a promise to restore ties with the West and spark an economic revival based on sanctions relief.

Japan’s purchases of Iranian crude rose more than 30 percent in December from a year earlier to about 175,000 bpd, trade ministry data showed on Friday.

The following tables show Asia’s Iran crude imports in bpd for December and 2015.

Country Dec-15 Dec-14 yr/yr pct China 530,630 604,740 -12.3 India 233,100 348,400 -33.1 Japan 174,990 130,160 34.4 Korea 57,323 128,452 -55.4 Total 996,043 1,211,752 -17.8 Country Jan-Dec 2015 Jan-Dec 2014 yr/yr pct China 532,292 549,250 -3.1 India 208,300 276,800 -24.8 Japan 170,360 8,777 0.9 Korea 116,164 123,077 -5.6 Total 1,027,116 1,117,904 -8.1
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